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PREVIEW: Tigers Look to Continue Scalding Hot Pitching/Defense, Stellar Hitting as Dukes Come to Town for Supers

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Missouri returns to the Supers in hopes of making a trip to the WCWS

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@MizzouSoftball twitter, Mizzou Athletics

IT’S GAME DAY, and Mizzou is one of the Super 16!! The Tigers will host the James Madison Dukes in super regional play for a shot to make the Women’s College World Series in a best of three match up. This will be Missouri’s first time hosting a super regional series at Mizzou Softball Stadium and their first appearance in the Supers since 2016. The last time the Tigers hosted a super regional? 2013 at University Field, when EE was coaching.

Consider this your preview.

Just last weekend, we watched in awe as the Tigers’ pitching staff gave up only two hits the entire weekend on some astonishing games from Jordan Weber and Laurin Krings. Both Jordan and Laurin flirted with no-hitters into the last inning of their games Friday and Saturday, and Jo finally got her no—no on Sunday, the Tigers’ first since 2011. I’m fully expecting the Tigers to roll out Jordan as the starter this evening, as she’s the “normal” Friday starter, and our true star.

We also cheered emphatically as the Tigers’ offense went wild, led by senior Brooke Wilmes, who hit three solo bombs in the regionals and became the first Tiger to reach 50 RBI this season, and catcher Hattie Moore, who not only led her pitchers to victory behind the plate, but was also 7-9 in the series with 4 RBI and a double. And the defense? OOOOOOHHHHH…. THAT DEFENSE. [insert heart eyes emojis]

Sports Illustrated detailed in their own super regional preview that the Tigers have a legit eight home run threats in their lineup, but their defense is even better, stating that, “The Missouri outfield of Abby George, Wilmes, and All-SEC Defensive player Casidy Chaumont won’t let many hits land.” I, of course, agree with this analysis.

About the Opponent:

JMU is currently on a 27-game win streak, and will be participating in their third Super in five years. According to a preview on NCAA.com, JMU is led by one of the hottest pitchers in all the land, Odicci Alexander (1.04 ERA, 14-0, 11 CG, 6 SHO, 168 K on the season) who posted a NINETEEN STRIKEOUT performance against Liberty in Game One. Other players who are on hot streaks, along with their season stats, that Mizzou fans should probably take note of (via JMU Sports):

  • I am honestly uncertain how Odicci Alexander’s arm didn’t actually FALL OFF given its astronomical amount of usage this past weekend. Just look at this:

— Game One vs Liberty, 12PM Friday: 10 (!) IP, CG, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 19 K

— Game Two vs Tennessee, 12PM Saturday: 7 IP, CG, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

— Game Three vs Liberty, 12PM Sunday: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 K, Save

  • Alissa Humphrey struck out three and collected her 14th win on the season after pitching just 1.2 innings in Game Three. She is undefeated on the season, with a 1.52 ERA, 11 complete games, 7 shutouts, 43 H, 19 ER, 29 BB, and 135 K.
  • Sara Jubas went 4-for-12 with a triple and a double while scoring twice and driving in four RBI in the regionals. She is batting .418 on the season with 41 R, 51 H, 33 RBI, 11 2B, 2 3B, and only 3 K.
  • Kate Gordon (18 HR, 55 RBI on the season) hit a three-run shot and tied the CAA home run record (68). She is batting .397 on the season with 43 R, 50 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, and 55 RBI.
  • Madison Naujokas hit a triple, and is batting .339 on the season with 31 R, 37 H, 2 2B, 4 HR and is a perfect 23-23 on SB attempts.

NOTE: If the stats look scary — and some certainly do — remember that JMU plays in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is not exactly the gauntlet of college softball like the SEC (no disrespect). The best team on their schedule this season was George Washington, who made it into the field of 64. But the Dukes are no slouch, and widely considered one of the best mid-majors in the country.

Coach Anderson knows what it’s like to be an underrated team, and knows not to underestimate a school she used to face - and lose too, consistently - while at Hofstra.

From my Sunday recap and the postgame presser:

The Dukes (37-1, have not lost since March 27), out of the CAA, is a team very familiar to Coach Anderson and some of her staff, as they play in the same conference as her former school, Hofstra. Said Anderson of the matchup, “The softball gods always have a way to figure it out. We played them in Florida (Clearwater, in Feb. 2020) and they beat us (8-7 in extra innings)... They have an unbelievable offense and a deep pitching staff.”

And Coach Anderson definitely is aware that her Tigers need to figure out a way to stop Kate Gordon’s offensive firepower. From Anthony Kristensen’s article in the Columbia Missourian:

“(Gordon is a) phenomenal player all the way across the board,” Anderson said. “She has the ability to be able to change the game. She is a fierce batter in the batter’s box, can hit bad balls. Those types of players make me nervous because it’s really tough to get them out.”

Here’s hoping Mizzou’s pitching staff is again fire, huh?

Looking for a fast video preview? Check out this from the NCAA’s twitter account. (Fast-forward to 1:30 to hear about Mizzou’s match up)

How to Watch

TIME: 8pm CST

DATE: Friday, May 28, 2021

LOCATION: Mizzou Softball Stadium, Columbia, Mo.

TV: ESPN U

STREAM: WatchESPN

TWITTER: @MizzouSoftball , #OwnIt, #RoadtoWCWS

ESPN+: ROCKMNATION

Looking for FuboTV? Try our signup link: FUBOTV

Final Thoughts

Here’s Sports Illustrated’s take on the series, from the same article I referenced above:

Keys to advancing to World Series for Mizzou: Mizzou has held its own against great pitchers all season, especially in the SEC, but it will need its pitching staff and defense to be lights out to keep up with Odiccy Alexander. The Tigers are sure to hit some home runs, and getting some runners on base for their power bats will be key against the dominant Alexander.

Keys to advancing to World Series for JMU: Redshirt junior shortstop Sara Jubas will need to keep up her offensive production after driving in five runs in the Regional sweep. She and Gordon have been the Duke’s biggest bats, and they’ll have their work cut out for them against a Missouri team that gave up just two hits in their home regional.

I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE our chances. I’ll be back with recaps throughout the weekend, but until then, let’s celebrate and get amped up for tonight’s game. This team has A LOT to be excited about.

Let’s go, Tigers! #OwnIt